Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year - New Goals

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions.  But I do appreciate and need goals in my life.  Last January when I made out a list of goals for for 2011, I honestly thought they would stretch me and push me, but that they were still very doable.  

I had great intentions, after all I believe the buzz word on many blogs was "Be Intentional".  I thought I had that.  They were good goals.  I had some specific goals concerning my marriage and children.  I wanted to spend more time in the Word, memorize more scripture, read more, exercise more - and so on.  

Each of my goals were clearly defined.  For example, I wanted to memorize one scripture per week.    Because it would be of my own choosing, I didn't see any reason why that could not be done.  Well, that and several others fell far short of what I saw as the victory finish line.

I did read more books, so that was a plus.  Although many of the specific goals were unmet, there were other areas that didn't make the list, but were greatly improved.   And I learned something about setting goals in my life and what being intentional means for me. 

If I don't have a specific reason attached to my goal, I will fail.  I want to be in better shape, but doesn't everyone this time of year?   However, the reason I want to be in better shape is to be healthy for my family and so that I have all the energy and strength I need to play with my grandchildren.   

When I set the goal and have a very specific reason with it and then break it down into doable chunks, I have a much better chance of achieving it. 

Some things also need to go.   Just adding a long list of "want to-dos" in my life, without removing some other "don't-need-to-dos", I will probably fail again.    For example, I do not need to stand in front of the TV mindlessly watching the Today Show before work.    Instead, I could be going over my memory verses. 

While that might be a small something, I realize there are bigger areas or more undisciplined areas in my life that need some sifting and sorting. 

I'm still praying about my goals for 2012 and wanting to make sure that God is very much in the midst of them.   And I'm very excited to see where He leads me. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reading Goals from 2011

Last January, I made a long list of goals for myself for 2011.     One of those goals was to read and finish a variety of books.  I have a terrible habit of starting a book or reading several at the same time and never finishing any of them.

So part of my goal was to actually finish a handful of books that I started years ago!  I can honestly say I did that.  

I also wanted to read some books that have been on our shelves for awhile that I just never could commit to reading.   One of them, I started and decided that it was a waste of time in this season of my life.  Maybe next year.    

Another book, Cost of Discipleship,  - well I'm still on Chapter 2.   I have owned it for so long and I am determined to make it a priority to complete it before the end of January 2012.

Some of these books were on the list I wanted to read, some were given as gifts and some were just for the pure joy of reading.  I also have a handful that are only half-way done.   Here's what made the finish line:

A Message from God, Retha McPherson

Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey

Just Give Me Jesus, Anne Graham Lotz
Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets

Organized Simplicity, Tsh Oxenrider

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

Jimmy, Robert Whitlow

Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas

A Gift from The Sea, Anne Lindbergh

Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy 

Quitter, Jon Acuff

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers (I still have 3 days to finish it) 

I do not necessarily endorse all of these books, nor their authors.      But I read them and therefore, they are on here.   My goal for next year is 24 books.    What did you read last year?   

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Operation Christmas Child -Looking Back and Looking Ahead

For several years, I have wanted to participate in Operation Christmas Child and prepare shoe boxes of gifts for children.  Lack of planning on my part resulted in zero boxes completed until this year.    There are three different age groups for boys and for girls and so I thought it would be fun to do six boxes total.  One for each category.

I had been gathering items since August when quality school supplies are dirt cheap.   Along the way, I also picked up full-size toothpastes, toothbrushes and soap for free.    After speaking with a friend who is heavily involved in Operation Christmas Child and learning that some children never have a toothbrush and others may share one toothbrush between fifteen or more children, I knew I would be putting extras in each box.

Then a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I headed out on a Saturday evening to finish grabbing the other items that would go in the boxes.  I had some thoughts of what I wanted to get, but I also prayed that God would lead me to specific items for each box.    I wanted the boxes to be special and personal for the child receiving it.

That night, I finished packing the shoe boxes (well, actually they were plastic storage boxes I purchased for.74 each at Krogers).   Printed off the mailing labels, signed up to receive a notification of what country our box was sent to and sealed them up to take to the drop-off center.

So far we have received a notice of at least one box going to Zimbabwe and one box going to Mali.   Only God could have made that possible.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Zimbabwe and hope to visit there someday.    My husband has regular interaction with a church that sends hospital supplies to Mali.

I mention this ministry now because it is a great time of year to get toys on sale or other items marked down for clearance.   Their website has a very easy to follow list of instructions and ideas for what can and cannot go in each shoe box.

Personally, I am going to make a list of the items that I plan on putting in next year's boxes so that I can have it with me when I am out shopping.   Some items I may not get until after I have prayed specifically for each child, but other items will be pretty standard for our boxes and I can grab those throughout the year.

Shoe boxes can be filled fairly inexpensively and will bring immeasurable joy to the child who receives it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Sound of Christmas Dinner

A little over 24 hours ago, I had the distinct privilege of sitting down for Christmas dinner with the people I love most.   My mother continued the decades long tradition of making the Christmas ham, which my brother declared that everyone must eat or they don't get to open presents.    There were bowls full of stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry salad and so much more.   An endless feast if you will, where the bowls seem to fill as fast as a spoonful is removed.  

Among the food, there is another delight.   I stumbled upon it this past Easter.   With great anticipation, it is something I came expecting to indulge in during the Christmas dinner.   I was not disappointed. 

After the food is initially passed around the table, the conversations continue while everyone partakes of the provisions offered them.  And then it appears, if you silence your thoughts and your words, you will hear it.   

So that is what I did.  I didn't concentrate on the words of conversations or even what was on my plate.  Instead, I allowed the cadence of sentences, the soft crumple of napkins, the rhythm of breathing, the subtle thud of bowls being placed back on the table, the clanking of silverware upon a plate to form one of the most beautiful serenades you can imagine.    With the familiar smells of home-cooked foods from my childhood as the backdrop, there before me was a melody as sweet as one performed by any orchestra.   

You know how your heart swells up with joy when you hear beautiful music.  That is what happens in that moment for me.  The sounds of the voices of my parents, my spouse, my children and other extended family all coming together in that one brief moment before children become restless and the dessert is passed.   It is there that the sound of Christmas dinner is at its finest.      It is there that blessings from God come to life in a new and personal way and I am forever grateful for that holiday music.